Is Iran as great an existential threat to Israel’s Jews as mixed marriage and religious indifference is to Diaspore Jewry?
I don’t think so. Israel can always rely on the IDF to defeat the realization of any potential threat to Israel’s existence; although the cost may be high.
But how will Diaspore Jews, with their low birth rates and high out-marriage rates survive?
Two Jewish community surveys last year (2014) reported more evidence of the impact of the rise in marriage to non-Jews who do not choose to become Jewish.
The good news in Saint Louis is that: 43% of households with at least one child ages 5-17 have sent a child to a Jewish day camp; 27% of all households with children 5-17 have sent a child to an overnight Jewish camp; 27% of households with children 5-17 have sent a child to a Jewish youth group,
The bad news is that 48% of married St. Louis couples are in marriages where the non-Jew does not want to become Jewish, a sharp increase from the 25% reported in 1995.
Thus, it is no surprise that while almost every child in an in-married household is being raised as Jewish only (88%) and almost none are being raised in another religion; of the 43% of all children in St. Louis Jewish households, who live in an intermarried family, only 27% are being raised as Jewish only.
As for the rest of the children 19% are being raised in another religion, 26% without any religion and 18% in a mixture of Christmas/Hanukkah, Seder/Easter dinner, you are half Jewish, mishmash.
In reality, these percentages have stayed fairly constant for more than 50 years, but since the out-marriage rate has more than doubled during that time the impact will become more noticeable.
In Seattle, the other community surveyed things are different but not much different: 61% of Jewish adults are married – of those, 56% are intermarried.
The results of the Seattle survey did not distinguish between in-married and out-married couples so all we say now is that 66% of the children are being raised Jewish only and another 10% are being raised as half Jews; with some Jewish and some other religion.
The remainder are being raised in no religion, or the parents have not yet decided upon a religion in which to raise them. Most of those who have avoided deciding will end up doing a little of one and a little of the other which results in kids who feel half Jewish or half Christian.
About 5-10% of these ‘half Jews’ will marry an ‘all’ Jew and may have Jewish children, but 90%+ will be lost to the Jewish community in the next generation.
If you do the math, 90% of 50% out-married equals 25% (one and a half million) less Jews in North America by 2050.
If it were not for those non-Jews who converted to Judaism in the last generation (about 300-400,000 plus their children) we would already have lost a million Jews.
For Diaspora Jews living in an open society; converts are as important as the IDF is for Israel. May God bless both of them.